With the future stability of the NCAA a hot topic in collegiate athletics, most notably in football, one member of the NCAA’s board of directors is not seeing any potential split by the power conferences that drive the sport. Not yet, at least. Nathan Hatch, president of Wake Forest and chairman of the NCAA’s board of directors, says the goal is still to have one top division in collegiate athletics.
“From what I’ve heard in the association, I think people would like to have one Division I, but in some ways, a structure that will make certain differentiations between small conferences and big conferences,” said Hatch, according to a report from USA Today. “I think people like having one division.”
Ideally, yes, that is the ultimate goal moving forward. Some powerful people in college football have begun to draw a line with the NCAA, challenging it to make some serious changes before the conferences join together to take it upon themselves. SEC commissioner Mike Slive, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, Pac 12 commissioner Larry Scott and Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby all figure to be smart enough to a new strategy if it does end up getting to that point. American commissioner Mike Aresco has said before if a split from the NCAA does come in to play that his conference would expect to be a part of the mix. The idea of Division 4 was a major talking point in each conference during the summer’s media days for football and has continued to crop up in recent weeks as basketball season is getting set for the upcoming season.
One of the major concerns the conferences have is in the NCAA’s inability to enforce their rules, with a lack of consistency from case to case around the country. The NCAA is aware how important it is to address enforcement changes.
“There will have to be some give and take as we go down the road, but the fact that all 351 (Division I) athletics directors are speaking out of the same hymnal, it’s the first time in my 20 years,” said Purdue athletics director Morgan Burke. “I think we recognize there are unique demands, pressures and resources (on the big schools), so there has to be some autonomy on some select issues, but there’s an awful lot of commonality.”
The idea of a Division 4, which would hypothetically include the top conferences in college football such as the SEC, Big Ten and Pac 12 splitting from the existing NCAA model to form their own governing body and allow for a new vision and experience. While the frustrations from conference to conference tend to stem on how the NCAA is managed and how rules are enforced, money is also a big topic around college football.
When money talks, conferences could walk.